Carnegie Mellon University
May 09, 2022

Track Star Chases Down 5,000-Meter Records

By Heidi Opdyke

Peter Kerwin
  • University Communications & Marketing
Mark Fisher

Carnegie Mellon University athlete Michael OBroin is in track and field for the long run.

And his effort has paid off.

OBroin, a senior studying computer science, took second place in the 5,000-meter run at the 2022 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in March, earning All-American recognition and the highest showing for a runner at the meet for a men's track and field athlete in Tartan program history.

"I didn't quite perform how I wanted in the fall," OBroin said. "For indoor track, I figured out my mental approach."

This semester, OBroin has set both the indoor (14:16.30) and outdoor (14:08.49) Tartan records for the 5,000-meter run.

"He has developed self confidence that has brought his running to a whole new level," said Tim Connelly, the Tartan head cross country coach and associate head coach for track and field. "He's excited to see what he can do the rest of the season."

Connelly said that OBroin has been a contributor to both teams since his first year at CMU.

"We tell the kids all time that you need to have ability, a great work ethic and you have to love to compete. Michael has all of that," he said.

Since 2018, the men's cross country team has won the regional championship three times while winning the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship twice. No competition took place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When looking at universities, OBroin said he chose CMU because as a Division III athlete, he could balance academics more with his chosen sports.

"The way we run here isn't that far off from Division I programs, but I thought I would enjoy the smaller community more and have the opportunity to do research," he said.

Through internships and coursework, OBroin found his avenue for research. He worked as an engineering intern with Caterpillar's Pittsburgh office for a summer and his junior year. Previously he worked at summer internships with firms in the greater Chicago area.

Last summer he worked as an intern with Amazon Robotics in Boston, and once he graduates, he'll join the group full-time. While in Boston, he plans to live with former teammates and continue to train for races.

"CMU athletics has a sense of community, both within specific sports and across teams," he said. "For me, the moment I set foot on campus my freshman year I had 50 people I was automatic friends with on the cross country team, all from different grades, majors, areas. They helped me figure out how to navigate those first few weeks on campus and help set me up for success."

OBroin, in turn, has helped set others up for success. Not only did he pay forward advice he received to underclassmen, he also served as a member of the student-athlete advisory council, and as a peer tutor for introductory computer science courses.

Mark Stehlik, director of the computer science undergraduate program, assistant dean for outreach and a teaching professor in the School of Computer Science, is OBroin's advisor. He recalled a time when he congratulated OBroin after a race.

"Michael said, 'It's really rewarding to work hard for such a long time and have it all end well. Not that you do it for that, because it's not guaranteed, but it's nice when it works out,'" Stehlik said. "He's right — hard work is, indeed, its own reward, but it's nice when that hard work gets recognized empirically. And in Michael's case, it worked out well both athletically and academically!"

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